One of the most notorious haunting stories in history is that of the Bell Witch, a malicious spirit which first appeared on the farm of the Bell family in northern Tennesse in 1817. The spirit was persistent and nasty, so much so that it was credited with actually killing the patriarch of the Bell family.
The weird events began in 1817 when a farmer, John Bell, saw a strange creature hunched down in a corn row. Bell assumed he was looking at some unknown type of large dog. The beast stared at Bell, who fired a gun at it. The animal ran off.
A few days later another family member spotted a bird on a fence post. He wanted to shoot at what he thought was a turkey, and was startled when the bird took off, flying over him and revealing that it was an extraordinarily large animal.
Other sightings of weird animals continued, with the strange black dog often showing up. And then peculiar noises began in the Bell house late at night. When lamps were lit the noises would stop.
John Bell began to be afflicted with odd symptoms, such as the occasional swelling of his tongue which made it impossible for him to eat. He finally told a friend about the strange events on his farm, and his friend and his wife came to investigate. As the visitors slept at the Bell farm the spirit came into their room and pulled the covers from their bed.
According to legend, the haunting spirit continued making noises at night, and finally began to speak to the family in a strange voice. The spirit, which was given the name Kate, would argue with family members, though it was said to be friendly to some of them.
A book published about the Bell Witch in the late 1800s claimed that some locals believed the spirit was benevolent and was sent to help the family. But the spirit began to show a violent and malicious side.
According to some versions of the story, the Bell Witch would stick pins in family members and throw them violently to the ground. And John Bell was attacked and beaten one day by an invisible foe.
The fame of the spirit grew in Tennessee, and supposedly Andrew Jackson, who was not yet president but was revered as a fearless war hero, heard of the weird events and came to put an end to it. The Bell Witch greeted his arrival with a great commotion, throwing dishes at Jackson and not letting anyone at the farm sleep that night. Jackson supposedly said he'd "rather fight the British again" than face the Bell Witch and departed the farm quickly the next morning.
In 1820, just three years after the spirit arrived at the Bell farm, John Bell was found quite ill, next to a vial of some strange liquid. He soon died, apparently poisoned. His family members gave some of the liquid to a cat, which also died. His family believed the spirit had forced Bell to drink the poison.
The Bell Witch apparently left the farm after John Bell's death, though some people report strange happenings in the vicinity to this day.